Posts Tagged ‘Surrealism’

There is a sense of sadness to Rollin’s vampires and even at their most violent, they exhibit weaknesses (to time, to the sun, to unrequited love) that make them far more sympathetic than a typical horror movie heavy.  Clocks are often closely associated with vampires, deepening the symbolic importance of time and fate in Rollin’s world.  It’s no coincidence that one of the most iconic images from his filmography occurs in LE FRISSON DES VAMPIRES (SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES, 1971) when a scantily clad female vampire emerges from within a grandfather clock to menace a young bride.  (Tenebrous Kate on DIRGEMAG.COM)

Think of this as a serendipitous journey.  Long-time readers of this blog may know that vampires are high among my interests.  Cf. the “Casket Girls,” several stories of whom have been published in various places jean-rollin-part-1-feature(see, e.g., August 4 2016, April 28 2015, et al.).  But also an interest in surrealism (February 20 2015, June 22 2014, others), and a chance link back to my own post on “Sweet Lesbian Vampire Love” (August 14 2016) reminded me of a place where these are combined, in the French-language films of Jean Rollin with 1968’s LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE (RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE) an early example.  Then enter DIRGEMAG.COM, linked to in the August 14 post, and another completely different article, “Sex, Death, and the Psychedelic Madness of Jean Rollin,” by Tenebrous Kate.

As it happens, I have a number of Rollin’s films in my own collection (I may re-watch RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE tonight!), but rather than describe things myself, I’ll simply suggest reading Tenebrous Kate’s piece by pressing here.  And to close, I’ll quote two more paragraphs from it, these ones on settings (and not without noting another connection in the second, echoing perhaps an interest parallel to my own TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF Rollin-ViolLATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, albeit in maybe a different direction.  But who can resist a good graveyard, eh?).

Rollin’s films are set far from the noise and action of the city, in isolated and frequently old-fashioned settings.  Beaches, with their endlessly cycling tides and cleansing ocean waters, are places of death and rebirth.  Scenes of vampires risking exposure to the sun at dawn on the rocky shores of Normandy figure prominently in Rollin’s films.  Centuries-old country châteaux hold terrible secrets and can be interpreted to symbolize the nobility of France’s past.  These buildings are populated by strange and often supernatural characters who reflect the opulent decay of their surroundings.

Perhaps most noteworthy of all are Rollin’s cemeteries: overgrown with weeds, gates rusted and creaking, these cities of the dead are transitional places between the everyday world and that of the supernatural.  Cemeteries are places where the living and the dead occupy the same space, a fact that Rollin uses for maximum symbolic impact.  Characters arrange secret graveyard rendezvous, only to uncover secrets that appear in the form of treasures, gateways, or menacing monsters.

So came the announcement from Editor/Publisher Juliana Rew:  It’s hard to believe that summer’s almost here. And so is the new anthology, CAT’S BREAKFAST:  TRIBUTE TO KURT VONNEGUT.  A double issue, it contains 30  all-original  science fiction and fantasy short stories inspired by the wit and wisdom of  the late Mr. Vonnegut, releasing on June 15.

An international group of new and established contributors to “Cat’s Breakfast” makes this a remarkable and varied collection that is sure to please fans of science fiction/fantasy, humor, and horror.  The ebook’s available for pre-order on Amazon, and print books will follow shortly.

And so here it is, the lineup including my “Dead Girls, Dying Girls” (see April 27), a tale of a modern young lady . . . and bears . . .  originally published in Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s own tribute anthology, SO IT GOES, in 2013.  While as for that ebook pre-order and other info, one need but press here.

Contents

Spooky Action by David A. Kilman
They Grow Up So Fast by Konstantine Paradias
The Jim-Aaargh School of Philosophy by Rati Mehrotra
Command Decision by James Beamon
Hear by Tim Jeffreys
Honour Killing by Iain Hamilton McKinven
Talk to the Animals by Jill Hand
The Pigeon Drop by Gregg Chamberlain
Formica Joe by Anne E. Johnson
One Is One by Vaughan Stanger
Emerging Grammars by Christopher Mark Rose
Picnic, with Xels by Keyan Bowes
Scenes from a Post-Scarcity, Post-Death Society by Peter Hagelslag
The Static Fall to a Standing Walk by Jason Lairamore
Beyond the Borders of Boredom by Ville Nummenpää
Snakes and Ladders by Rekha Valliappan
Drop Dead Date by August Marion
Monkeyline by Jonathan Shipley
Quality Testing by S. E. Foley
Dead Girls, Dying Girls by James Dorr
The Bringers by John J. Kennedy
The Confrontation Station by Ryan Dull
The Edge of Toska by Veronica Moyer
Violadors on the Run by Corrie Parrish
37 by Dan Koboldt
The Losers’ Crusade by Neil James Hudson

Grins and Gurgles (Flash Humor):

Cyborg Shark Battle (Season 4, O’ahu Frenzy) by Benjamin C. Kinney
Strange Stars by Laurence Raphael Brothers
iPhone 17,000 by E. E. King
The Service Call by Edward Ahern

Then in other info, it’s one of those signs of spring becoming summer, and one of those little things sometimes buried under other activity, but the 2017 RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY(cf. April 19, 2, March 29, et al.) made a safe landing here in last Saturday’s mail.  This is the collection of award nominees in the Science Fiction and Poetry Association’s annual Rhysling Competition, in which my prize fight poem “Godzilla vs. King Kong” appears in the Short Poem division (cf. March 29, February 22).

More information on the Rhysling Awards and the SFPA may be found here.

A quick follow up to April 27th’s post just below (paragraph two).  Later that p.m. what should e-appear in ye olde electronic mailbox but the promised contract from Third Flatiron Publishing for “Dead Girls, Dying Girls” to appear in CAT’S BREAKFAST, this being the title for their Kurt Vonnegut inspired summer anthology.  As opposed, that is, to the Goth cat Triana’s morning kibble.  So this afternoon I emailed back my agreement plus some extra requested information on form of payment, current address, etc.  And again, more to be told here as it becomes known.

(Meanwhile as I write this the Goth cat Triana, who is experiencing the first spring ever in her young life, has captured either a small spider or a member of the cricket colony that inhabits my basement briefly in fall and spring, on an all too tragic visit upstairs.  After some play, she has apparently eaten it, so I can’t say for sure which it is [I suspect the spider].  She does appear to have enjoyed it, though.)

The writing life, the writing life.  Last night the proof copy came for “Golden Age,” the closing story for Smart Rhino’s upcoming anthology ZIPPERED FLESH 3:  YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD (see April 19, et al.).  The changes suggested were unobtrusive, so back it has been sent today with my okay, plus one small correction.  “Golden Age” itself is a reprint, originally appearing in the science fiction magazine MINDSPARKS for  Spring 1994, and probably will be a bit more “gentle” than much of the content of the finished anthology.  Maybe a lot more gentle, in fact, but also in Editor Weldon Burge’s opinion with a sense of finality that may make it perfect to be the closer.

In other news, we may remember Third Flatiron Publishing which we last met in conjunction with my short short “Chocolat” in their IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION anthology (cf. March 23, February 21).  They do these themed anthologies quarterly and, concerning their latest, the word came earlier this week from Editor/Publisher Juliana Rew:  We’d be pleased to accept the story, “Dead Girls, Dying Girls,” for inclusion in Third Flatiron Publishing’s Summer 2017 anthology, with the theme, “Cat’s Breakfast.”  This is to be a Kurt Vonnegut inspired collection, inspired itself somewhat by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s 2013 SO IT GOES:  A TRIBUTE TO KURT VONNEGUT.  And so a couple of us writers who both had stories in that one (aha!  so see January 3 2013, below) and have been at least occasionally part of Third Flatiron’s stable were invited to send our work in for possible reprint consideration.  The email added that it would receive a reprint rate, which had been understood, and that a contract should be along soon.  Thus “Dead Girls, Dying Girls,” the tale of an up-and-coming modern American young lady — and dancing bears — has earned a new home, more of which to be revealed here as it becomes known.

So it goes.

ERASERHEAD, anyone?  No, not here, but remember that ear?  For BLUE VELVET fans there came a notice from Mike Olson, via ON THE EDGE CINEMA on Facebook, of an interesting article thirty years after the making of that film, by Rebecca Bengal, including photography by Peter Braatz.  The thirty year anniversary, actually, is 220px-Bvmoviepostercoincidence — as is part of the subject of the piece, “Blue Velvet Revisited:  Unseen Images From a New Documentary on the Making of David Lynch’s Classic,” on VOGUE.COM.  Also by Peter Braatz, the documentary is hoped to be out sometime this year, at least for film festivals and the like.

Indiana University Cinema, anyone?

And of the ear, discovered in the grass:  Lynch has said he got the idea for BLUE VELVET from that ear — the film’s central metaphor and a seashell-like portal to this small-town underworld — but also from Bobby Vinton’s 1960s version of the song.  “There was something mysterious about it,” he said. “It made me think about things.  And the first things I thought about were lawns — lawns and the neighborhood.”

For more, press here.

Time travel maybe, a “slip” in time, or demonic possession, or simply a certified non-reliable narrator?  Donnie, after all, not only has problems getting along with his family, not to mention school, but is seeing a psychiatrist on a regular basis.  What’s a teen to do?  He does have a girlfriend or, rather, gets one as the film progresses, but one who has problems of her own.  And what does all that have to do with Easter?

Well, Donnie also has an imaginary friend named Frank who appears and advises him from time to time.  An ordinary fellow teenager in 220px-Donnie_Darko_postera way, except that Frank’s head is the head of a hideous silver bunny.

And then there’s ex-nun Roberta Sparrow’s THE PHILOSOPHY OF TIME TRAVEL which states that when a “Tangent Universe” has occurred — a temporary vortex connecting the one we live in with an alternate timeline — the first sign may be an Artifact which will be formed of metal.  But one that others will see, or even be killed by, as well, historically often attributed to Divine Intervention — examples include a legend of a Mayan killed by an arrowhead that fell from a cliff, but with no enemy around, or a medieval knight “impaled by the sword he had not yet built.”*  The extras with the DVD, by the way, include selected pages of Sparrow’s book (which Donnie has gotten a copy of too from his school’s science teacher about halfway through) which is worth looking at in trying to figure out What’s Going On?!??

But let the blurb on the DVD case attempt.  DONNIE DARKO is an edgy psychological thriller about a suburban teen coming face-to-face with his dark destiny  . . .  a delusional high school student visited by a demonic rabbit with eerie visions of the past and deadly predictions for the future.  I myself might call it surrealism, at least in part, with possible intimations of God, if there is a God, and supernatural/natural relations.  It’s well done, in my opinion, and the kind of movie that I enjoy.  The kind that is worth looking through the “extras,” and looking at itself at least a second time.

But with the understanding that, even then, the question of “What’s Going On” may still not be completely answered.

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*No mere silvery bunny-mask in this case, or even an arrow or not-yet-forged sword, the Artifact here will most definitely be noticed by practically the whole town.  Just watch the film — I guarantee it!

And what did you see at the movies on Halloween?  For me, with a screen time beginning at 11:59 last night at the IU Cinema, the midnight showing for All Hallow’s Eve was a strange one, the 1977 Japanese film HAUSU.  And yes, it means “house.”   It’s an “evil house” movie, but with a big difference.  This one combines the expected tropes with a weird 2Hausuundercurrent of surrealism, including cartoons, a demon cat, telegraphed punches — all clearly intentional — even slapstick humor in a tale of seven schoolgirls’ summer outing at the home of one of the girls’ maiden aunt.  An aunt she hadn’t seen since her grandmother’s funeral years in the past.

But the past stretched further.  Auntie, it seems, had loved a man during World War II who had promised to come back — but never did.  And since then, with the exception of Auntie, the village seems to have become bereft of unmarried young women (it does, however, possess a creepy male watermelon seller who points the way to Auntie’s over-large house).  That is, until now.

There was no docent to explain the movie.  It is what it is.  The program notes say, in part:  “Too absurd to be genuinely terrifying, yet too nightmarish to be merely comic, HOUSE seems like it was beamed to Earth from another planet.  Or 1Hausuperhaps the mind of a child:  the director Nobuhiko Obayashi fashioned the script after the eccentric musings of his 11-year-old daughter, then employed all the tricks in his analog arsenal (mattes, animation, and collage) to make them a visually astonishing, raucous reality.  Contains graphic content, including violence and nudity.”  I say if you don’t mind wackiness with your surrealism, nor mind an ending that masks its horror with sweetness and sadness — and even a philosophic note on the persistence of love — I recommend HAUSU.

A “three-hour science fiction experimental masterpiece,” according to the Indiana University Cinema docent.  “A Burroughsian interpretation of Burroughs” as opposed to NAKED LUNCH (as a less Burroughsian interpretation, though still a “masterpiece”).  He went on to say the film NOVA EXPRESS existed as a kind of rumor from the late 1990s, also that Perkowski had said, when he first read NOVA EXPRESS, that he didn’t understand it at all — but that the idea had been planted that later, ultimately, became what we would see.  He would look forward to a Criterion edition with the second disk with the other 75 some hours Perkowski put together but didn’t use.  But (for tonight at least) “three hours is enough.”

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An exhaustive examination of cut-ups, the control machine, and the algebra of need figure in this epic found-footage adaptation of Burroughs’s 1964 novel, which pits Inspector Lee and the Nova Police against the Nova Mob:  Sammy The Butcher, Green Tony, The Brown Artist, Jacky Blue Note, Izzy The Push, The Subliminal Kid, Uranian Willy, and Mr Bradly Mr Martin, alias The Ugly Spirit.  Features unreleased readings by Burroughs and voiceovers by Proctor & Bergman of the Firesign Theatre on such topics as hot crab people, language as virus, tape recorder warfare, death dwarfs, and Hassan Sabbah:  the Old Man of the Mountain.  “Minutes to go.  Souls rotten from their orgasm drugs, flesh shuddering from their nova ovens, prisoners of the earth to come out.”   “Like the radical science fiction novel on which it is based, the film cuts-up, remixes, incorporates and detours through social satire, science fiction, film noir, and the image archive of the twentieth-century to create a visual counterpart to the soundtrack voices of William Burroughs and others.  Combining found footage, original film, animation and collages the film is a Burroughsmammoth, visionary work that has screened in various forms (some versions lasting three-hours) offering a truly cinematic realisation of Burroughs’ world.  This screening is essential for anyone interested in Burroughs, radical cinema, and storming the reality studio.” –Jack Sargeant   “As the film reaches its climax, Perkowski’s images become less literal and more visionary, intensifying into hallucinatory, stroboscopic collages. Its ‘Final Words’ (in fact the first words of the book), written half a century ago, are apocalyptic and all too timely: ‘Listen all you boards syndicates and governments of the earth. And you powers behind what filth deals consummated in what lavatory to take what is not yours. To sell the ground from unborn feet forever … Show your cards all players …These words might be too late.’” –The Boston Globe (HD Presentation)  

(IU CINEMA:  Nova Express film — program notes)

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This is the kind of film that grows on you.  It’s weird, almost beautiful in places, perhaps ploddy in others.  It’s cut and paste, repetitions, stock pictures sometimes from other films, sometimes brilliantly used.  It reminded me to some extent (though in a different way) to the final third of TALES OF POE described late last month (see September 28), as well as, again in a very different way, THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (see July 17).  From my own notes:  “Images and sounds that flow one into another.  A moving collage.”

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NOVA EXPRESS is a 1964 novel by William S. Burroughs.  It was written using the ‘fold-in’ method, a version of the cut-up method, developed by Burroughs with Brion Gysin, of enfolding snippets of different texts into the novel. It is part of The Nova Trilogy, or “Cut-Up Trilogy,’ together with THE SOFT MACHINE and THE TICKET THAT EXPLODED.  Burroughs considered the trilogy a “sequel” or “mathematical” continuation of NAKED LUNCH.  […]

Interpretation
NOVA EXPRESS is a social commentary on human and machine control of life.  The Nova Mob — Sammy the Butcher, Izzy the Push, The Subliminal Kid, and others — are viruses, “defined as the three-dimensional coordinate point of a controller.” “which invade the human body and in the process produce language.”  These Nova Criminals represent society, culture, and government, and have taken control. Inspector Lee and the rest of the Nova Police are left fighting for the rest of humanity in the power struggle.  “The Nova Police can be compared to apomorphine, a regulating instance that need not continue and has no intention of continuing after its work is done.”  The police are focused on “first-order addictions of junkies, homosexuals, dissidents, and criminals; if these criminals vanish, the police must create more in order to justify their own survival.”   The Nova Police depend upon the Nova Criminals for existence; if the criminals cease to exist, so do the police.  “They act like apomorphine, the nonaddictive cure for morphine addiction that Burroughs used and then promoted for many years.”

Control is the main theme of the novel, and Burroughs attempts to use language to break down the walls of culture, the biggest control machine.  He uses inspector Lee to express his own thoughts about the world.  “The purpose of my writing is to expose and arrest Nova Criminals. In NAKED LUNCH, SOFT MACHINE and NOVA EXPRESS I show who they are and what they are doing and what they will do if they are not arrested. […] With your help we can occupy The Reality Studio and retake their universe of Fear Death and Monopoly.”  As Burroughs battles with the self and what is human, he finds that language is the only way to maintain dominance over the “powerful instruments of control,” which are the most prevalent enemies of human society.

(WIKIPEDIA, NOVA EXPRESS — The Novel)

Add flash to your writing.  Be not like all others but dare to venture beyond the beaten path.  Well, some have done this — one might recall even I had a story in Bizarro Pulp Press’s BIZARRO bizarro-bizarroBIZARRO (see  January 30 2014, December 27 2013, et al.).  But that’s just the tip of the much-clichéd iceberg, as witnessed by Nathaniel Woo in “10 Bizarre Literary Movements and Genres,” published on LISTVERSE and for which see here.

(And should you be tempted, or, hey maybe I can sell a book too, for more information on BIZARRO BIZARRO one may press here.)

Well maybe not quite an orgy, but this afternoon the Indiana University Cinema ended a run of a lot of Canadian surrealist director Guy Maddin’s films (included:  TALES FROM THE GIMLI HOSPITAL, ARCHANGEL, MY WINNIPEG, BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD . . . plus Buñeul’s [with Salvador Dali] L’AGE D’OR as an example of the kinds of movies that influenced him), including talks by Maddin himself on Thursday and Friday, with one of the more unusual interpretations of Bram Stoker’s classic novel, DRACULA:  PAGES FROM A VIRGIN’S DIARY.  To quote from the program book:  “Canadian cult auteur Guy Maddin has concocted his most ravishingly stylized cinematic creation to date.  Beautifully transposing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s interpretation . . . from stage to screen, Maddin has forged a sumptuous, erotically charged feast of dance, drama and silent film tec220px-Draculaballethniques.  The black-and-white, blood-red-punctured DRACULA:  PAGES FROM A VIRGIN’S DIARY is a Gothic grand guignol of the notorious Count and his bodice-ripped victims, fringed with the expressionistic strains of Gustav Mahler. . . .”

As with many of his films, Maddin borrows techniques from the silents, including the use of title cards which, with a familiarity with the novel DRACULA, should allow the storyline to be followed with relatively little difficulty.  Also it is filmed in black and white, often with a purposefully shadowy quality reminiscent of early movies, although with tinting and spot color also used in places to draw attention — and, yes, that color often is red — or simply as accents.  Also, the film can be thought of as falling in two parts, the first in England with the seduction of Lucy, as performed by Tara Birtwhistle, and introduction of Dr. Van Helsing to explain to the others, and us, the true nature of the disease that affects her.  And then the second, here straying in some parts from Stoker’s original toward the end, where Dracula himself, performed by Zhang Wei-Qiang, comes to the fore, beginning with Mina’s joining her fiancé Jonathan Harker where he’s recuperating in an East European convent-hospital following his escape from Dracula’s castle, then taking us to the pursuit of Dracula and the vampire’s ultimate destruction.

In introducing the film, the docent explained that Maddin had been discouraged by the poor reception of his 1997 TWILIGHT OF THE ICE NYMPHS and, while his short, THE HEART OF THE WORLD, was much better reviewed a few years later, DRACULA in 2002 marked in a sense his feature film comeback.  Also noted was Maddin’s feeling about the original novel as “all rooted in male jealousy,” leading perhaps to an emphasis from the beginning of DRACULA as an invasion novel (akin, in that sense, to H. G. Wells’s THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, published the year after Stoker’s book in 1898), voicing a Victorian English fear of contamination through immigration — and in particular from the east.  Especially in this second part, too, the use of shadows and settings and darkness adds to a German expressionist feeling, with Mahler’s music and fantastic dancing (the music excerpted from his 1st and 2nd Symphonies) leading dramatically up to the climax.   Or, to quote the IU Cinema’s program book again, itself adding its own quotation:  “THE NEW YORKER declared that ‘Victorian sexuality and melodrama are brought together in a shadowy world of expressionistic images and an athletic, almost rabid, choreography.’”

So, is this a film I would recommend for any lover of Bram Stoker’s novel, DRACULA, or even just of vampires in general — regardless of whether one is a fan of dance or music?  Resoundingly, yes.




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